I had an anxiety attack on Sunday. It was in broad daylight in a crowded place. It was the middle of the day. This has not happened to me in a very long time. I spent most of the summer fighting through crippling anxiety attacks, but they all happened at night in my own bed. I was safe in the daylight, darkness was the problem. This is a troubling turn of events.
Maybe it was an isolated event. I have written here in the past about being an empath and the weight of current events has crushed me. Maybe the volume was just turned up from too much emotion. I happened to have a talk therapy session scheduled for Monday and I told him the story. I was waiting in line with my wife and child to see Santa. I had not been feeling well physically for a couple days, undoubtedly an effect of the too much news, and hadn’t really wanted to go. The line was long and the boy got antsy and needed to use the potty. I told my wife I would hold the line and she could take him to find a toilet. Within moments of her leaving I realized I had left my cell phone in the car. I had no way to reach her, and she had the car keys. What if I got sick? I wouldn’t be able to get to her. I wouldn’t be able to get into the car. If I fled for a bathroom she wouldn’t be able to find me. Trapped. Trapped. Trapped. I could not force my feet to stay in place. I bolted. I wasn’t quite running but close. Down the corridor I went until I saw the blonde hair and the happy three old bobbing along in tow. And it was over.
I went on with the therapist at length about needing an escape route from most situations. I told him that I had heard of a job that will be coming open. A job that would be the closest thing to perfect for my interest and skill set. A job that would put me back on the water, but have me home at night. Perfect. The first thing I thought of when I found out is what if I get sick on the boats? Can I really do this job? He listened to my story. I was in a bad place Monday. Dealing with this, with the news, and too much time to think about the news as I drive down the road had left me drained. It was hard to put a real thought together, but eventually I got it out. He replied that what he heard me saying is that my world was getting smaller. As people with anxiety go through life without addressing it their world’s gradually become smaller as the anxiety slowly takes more and more from them. You continue to accommodate and develop strategies to function just well enough, but with each accommodation your world gets smaller as the anxiety takes a little more. This describes what has been happening over the past year perfectly. It has accelerated since I withdrew from the klonopin, but I think if I am honest with myself I can see that it was happening even before.
More and more I am being driven by the fear of being sick, and the fear of being trapped somewhere while sick. My rational mind hears how ridiculous this is, but the terror I felt in the mall was all too real. We talked about some CBT strategies we can work with to address this. It was mostly more extinction curve stuff. He gave some baby step exercises to play with until out next meeting. I am scheduled to see the medicine doc in about three weeks, but I may push that up a bit. My walls are definitely closing in, and the room is getting far too small